Iceland Needs Long-Term Plan for COVID-19, Says Chief Epidemiologist Skip to content

Iceland Needs Long-Term Plan for COVID-19, Says Chief Epidemiologist

By Yelena

COVID-19 Press conference Þórólfur Guðnason Alma Möller V'iðir Reynisson
Photo: Golli.

Iceland’s Chief Epidemiologist Þórólfur Guðnason is very concerned that the Icelandic public lacks the patience required to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic, RÚV reports. Þórólfur has suggested the government establish a consultation platform to examine how Icelandic society should deal with the SARS-CoV-2 virus over the long term, taking into account the economic and political challenges in addition to the public health challenges the pandemic presents.

In a radio interview this morning, Þórólfur stated that although he had initially hoped that the pandemic would be on the wane by now, it is still on the rise globally. This means that Icelanders must learn to live with the virus over the long term, at the same time as they tackle other challenges in their lives.

The Pandemic is “A Long-Term War”

The COVID-19 pandemic is a long-term war, not a series of little battles, Þórólfur stated in the interview. He believes that Icelanders have trouble accepting this reality, and that many hoped that after the spring’s gathering bans and rise and fall of case numbers, it would be possible to return to “life as normal.” This is, however, far from the case, as Þórólfur himself has been regularly pointing out. Þórólfur nevertheless expressed sympathy for those whose livelihoods were affected by social distancing regulations, such as artists.

Þórólfur has suggested to the government that a co-operative forum be set up that can tackle how Icelandic society adapts to the new reality. “In my opinion, this is more than just concerning disease prevention issues. There are more people that need a seat at the table and various points of view need to be taken into account. My perspective is first and foremost the epidemiological perspective and I will naturally continue to hold it up, but this is a political issue and this is an economic issue and there are all kinds of aspects. And there is that impatience that I’m beginning to sense a lot and people need to set down some sort of plan; hang on, how are we going to operate over the next year, the next months?”

“No Silver Bullet”

Head of the World Health Organisation Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus appears to be in agreement with Þórólfur about the need for long-term management of COVID-19. In a recent briefing, he warned against the belief that the development of a vaccine would do away with the pandemic. “We all hope to have a number of effective vaccines that can help prevent people from infection,” Ghebreyesus stated. “However, there is no silver bullet at the moment and there might never be. For now, stopping outbreaks comes down to the basics of public health and disease control.”

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